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The Shorebird Guide Turtleback – April 24, 2006

69 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


'A well-designed guide by knowledgeable and talented field birders and photographers that will benefit both beginner and advanced birders alike.' Birdwatch "the strength of this jizz- based book is its reliance on well over 800 excellent images of mainly Neartric Shore birds." Birdwatch --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Michael O'Brien is a renowned artist and tour-leader, and an expert on bird identification. Richard Crossley is a wader specialist with particular expertise in identifying birds at a distance - a crucial skill for wader enthusiasts - while Kevin Karlson is a wildlife photographer, focusing on Arctic wildlife. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.


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Product Details

  • Turtleback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (April 24, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0618432949
  • ISBN-13: 978-0618432943
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (69 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,634 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

69 of 70 people found the following review helpful By Jeff C on June 9, 2006
Format: Turtleback Verified Purchase
The Shorebird Guide is a different kind of bird guide. It tackles a traditionally difficult subject in a unique way that makes identifying Shorebirds seem (almost) easy. The book is split into two sections: the first is a color photographic guide to each species; the second is a text write-up of standard field-guide information as well as behavioral details and such for each species.

Each species gets several pages of beautiful color photographs. Each photograph shows the species under discussion in a real world setting and has a short but info packed caption. The photographs progress from juvenile birds through adults (breeding and non-breeding). Many of the photographs contain more than one bird and more than one species. Some of the captions pose questions to the reader (answers in the back). Working out the answers to these questions is a good test of your skills.

The philosophy behind this book is that of GISS (general impression of size and shape) or gestalt. This means that the identification of a bird is worked out, not by plumage details or colorations as with a typical field guide, but instead by the overall impression of the bird. This is an especially useful tool with Shorebirds.

In conclusion, this is an amazing bird book and one that every birder needs to have in their library. It will definitely make you a better birder.
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41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Weatherbird on November 9, 2006
Format: Turtleback Verified Purchase
If you are a real shorebird enthusiast, or simply enjoy looking at great bird photographs, this would be a great book for you. If you want a straightforward reference for field identification, this may not be the book for you.

The book has two main sections: Species Photos (with copious identification notes and range maps, and Species Accounts. The photo section is subdivided into "Domestic Species" and ""Rarities and Regional Specialties". The photos in the book are wonderful, so it is fun to look through even if you are not trying to learn anything. Many of the photos are excellent for learning how to identify particular species and many others help to illustrate particular behaviors. Other photos are beautiful, but not very useful for illustrating identification features or behavior.

The text is also excellent. Although the authors profess to use a holistic approach to identification, there is plenty of attention to specific details. For example, in the notes for the White-rumped Sandpiper: "all plumages may show unique reddish or brownish base to lower mandible". Many photos show multiple species and there are little quizzes mixed in with the identification notes.

I often carry this book in my car when I'm out birding, but the book would be rather large and heavy to carry in the field. I dislike the separate sections for "Domestic Species" and ""Rarities and Regional Specialties". It would be much easier to compart similar species (like Wilson's Snipe and Common Snipe) if the photos for the two species were adjacent to eachother. I find the quizzes are fun, but they may not be to everyone's taste.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By SGM on February 22, 2007
Format: Turtleback
This is perhaps the best bird family guide that I've seen. It is definitely the best identification guide to this difficult group of birds.

The book focuses more on size and shape rather than plumage. Therefore, the photos aren't like other guides. They are not all uniformly sized super close-up shots of a single bird. Instead they are sized to better emphasize certain characteristics. They often show multiple birds of different species so as to give a better comparison of size, shape, and plumage.

One of the best features of the guide is the questions in some captions. Most species have at least one question in one of their photo captions. The questions ask the reader to do such things as identify some of the species in the photo, or to pick out one particular species among all the birds present. The answers are contained in an appendix in the back. These questions force the reader to apply the knowledge and techniques imparted by the authors and look more critically and actively at the photograph.

I can't recommend this book enough.
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful By JTL95 on July 9, 2006
Format: Turtleback
This is the best photographic guide to Shorebirds period. There are hundreds of photos, over 300 pages for just photos most of them with several photos per page. Not only that they have great captions. Example Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs each have 12 photos showing both in one shot, breeding, non-breeding, juvenile, juvenile molting, resting, flying, with other species and all the photos tell you where and when (what month) they were taken. Each species also has range maps and the text is first class. Each species is covered as to Status, Taxonomy, Behavior, Migration - both spring and fall and adult and juveniles, Molts - first year and adult, and lastly vocalizations. The authors stress the Structure of each species rather than detailed colorization. Shorebirds can vary greatly in color especially during migration but their structure stays the same. Also one often observes these birds against bright lighting making their structure stand out.

If you are confused by Shorebirds and who isn't, this should be your first reference guide after your field guide. If you love Shorebirds it will take you days to just study all the photos just once. This is a definite 5 star plus book.

As for the Haines review I'd say go back and read the text you completely missed the point. Detailed full page photos of shorebirds are not very useful but many photos allowing structure comparison are the ticket to identifying Shorebirds.
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